Tag Archives: family

A Parade for Everyone

opp firetruck

The siren of the Fire Engine signaled the start. Kids, parents, friends, neighbors traveled on wagons, bikes, scooters, big wheels, roller blades, trailers and on foot for my favorite parade of the year.  The Oriole Park Independence Parade in which the participants always far out way the spectators. Everyone is polite, kind and thoughtful. It seems any fallen biker is instantly helped by the nearest adult till their parent arrives. OPP grand marshall  The cacophony of stupidity starts later after the sun goes down so this event is all about kids and the community. Most kids decorated their mode of transportation (especially my kids) and everyone’s color coordinated in the red, white and blue.  The  Grand Marshall is Children’s Librarian Mary Dresser (we love the local library) followed by The Oriole Park Grade School Band (playing the Star Spangled Banner), Revolutionary War re-enactors, a local scout troop and the rest of us in no particular order.opp flag The Chicago Police protect the rear.  After .7 miles of parade all participants enter into the park where small speeches are made, the Star Spangled Banner played (the band played that song a lot), and a cannon fired.  Then off to eat watermelon, get candy (free) and Dilly Bars for a dollar!  Kids ran around the park as parents reunited to talk about what’s been Oriole Park Parade Fire Enginehappening during the summer.  It’s a beautiful summer day and it feels good to be a part of the community.  One by one the families left till there’s just a smattering of us hanging out. We walked and rode home, just a tired family after a full morning.  We aren’t always the most neighborly community but it’s nice to see that we can all come together for a small party to celebrate the birthday of our nation.

opp wagon

Lucky Diaz talks a little music.


I called to talk to Latin Grammy Winner Lucky Diaz about his latest CD and tour and ended up talking about lots of other stuff.  I caught up with the bilingual star while he, wife Alisha and child were taking a break in Columbus, Indiana visiting Alishas family. They’re in the middle of a national tour and what better place to catch a breather than the heartland  of our country. It’s only a short rest because they arrive in the Chicago area tomorrow Friday, June 20th, performing  at two Land of Nod stores.  One in Oak Brook (11am) and one in Chicago(4pm)  in support of their last two CD releases –  Lishy Lou and Lucky Too lucky and lishy(October 2013) and their new release Aqui Alla.  I highly recommend seeing them as they are highly energetic and interactive. It’ll be fun for the whole family…  Now that business is out-of-the-way let’s get to the fun stuff. I first met Lucky and Alisha at the last Kindiefest (a moment of silence).  We had a brief conversation after their great set.  This time Lucky and I got to speak a lucky aquibit longer.  Any conversation that flows from Credence Clearwater Revival (with John Fogherty) to Stevie Ray Vaughn to Los Lobos to Fleetwood Mac with mentions of Sound City and used guitar shops is great conversation in my book.   How awesome is it that the Legenday Flaco Jimenez plays on the opening track of Aqui Alla (Flaco absolutely kills it)!  That Lucky records most of his stuff live and on 2” tape (watch Sound City) keeping overdubs to a minimum!  It very cool is what it is. Very cool indeed!   But the coolest thing of talking to Mr. Diaz is his appreciation of where his music has come from. Mentions of Chuck Berry, Richie Valens, Chicano Rock, traditional blues and The Mavericks just to name a few he mentioned.   That he takes the time to talk to a fellow kindie artist/ blogger and spends most of the interview talking about how others have helped and inspired him. From  producers to musicians to the girl who inspired the song Firefighter Girl (we like firefighter songs around here) Lucky is a man thankful for where he is and those who helped. If you have an opportunity go catch a show near you.  Lucky Diaz and the Family Band are worth the trip.  Go by their CD and support a kindie artist today!

Photo credit: Judy Eddy / WENN
Photo credit: Judy Eddy / WENN
The CD’s were provided by the artist to this blogger.  The opinions expressed here are his own

Istvan at Fischman’s Rocking


Yesterday Fischman Liquors on Milwauke threw a huge party (450+) called Kegs for Kidneys with many, many breweries bringing great brews to drink. I hear it was a great time. Today they had a family event raising money for the National Kidney Foundation in the same space raising money for the same foundation called Jammin in the Lot.   Table games, spin art with 45th Ward Alderman Arenas and his wife Jill pedaling the art…Literally! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Giant Jenga, arts and crafts and all sorts of fun stuff… Oh yeah they had my buddy Istvan and His (very rocking) Imaginary Band. The family is big fans of the songs – Things I Like and Mama Said and we’d been wanting to see them live.  Did I mention 2 industrial bubble machines, balloons and kids jammin’ on the therimin?  That has to be one of the coolest things I’ve seen in show. The kids playing (the theremin) Jammin in the lotwere totally owning it!  Istvan and company were a great band to see and catching them at this event was a bonus. I shall do my best to bring the family next year. I hope the event was a great success because we certainly had a great time!

Jammin at the lot

The Song and The Process. Looking for Trains by Justin Roberts.

JRwillyThe idea came from a father on the road with a band sending home photos and videos to his train obsessed son.  It was a way to stay in touch even when he couldn’t be with the family.  Bands tend to travel and good bands travel a lot.  Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players are one of the best (Two Grammy nominations.)  They travel quite a bit.  It started with the melody and the words “Seems like you’re always looking for trains.”  So began Looking for Trains by Justin Roberts off of his recently Grammy nominated CD Recess.  The father in the band is drummer Gerald Dowd (drummer, father and good guy extraordinaire) who was doing what dads do.  If the kids wants to see trains you send that kid pictures, books, videos and whatever else you find train related.  With a melody and opening lyric Justin then further djr recesseveloped the song on his guitar which is not how he usually works these days.  Nowadays he likes to develop songs on Logic.  This is an Apple program that allows him to add all sorts of instrumentation.  Strings, horns, guitars, etc.  So when he heads into the studio he already has a direction and feel for a song.  But this time he grabs his guitar and starts working it out old school (I’m a big fan of old school.) Lyrically he comes up with every rhyming verse he can think of that makes references to trains.  Then he inserts the lyrics to mimic the train rhythm he has set up in the instrumentation.  When it comes to the bridge he envisions it as getting bigger.  This is where his co-conspirator/producer and fellow band member Liam Davis stepped in, stripped it down (just piano and violin) holding the listener right when the point of the song is being made.  The best thing about this song is that it’s about more than trains which I suspected and Justin confirmed.  It’s about life. About hope.  How we are all looking for our trains “even though all we can see right now are the cars.”

Maybe it’s caught up in tunnels in the middle of a mountain so wide.  Maybe it’s stuck over bridges trying to get to the other side. Either way it’ll be here any day I can see it now it’s coming through…”

I asked if Mr. Roberts writes the music or words first and he said said both.  That he writes the words and the melody at the same time.  He is also not a constant writer or an inspirational writer but rather a “writes when he has too” writer.  Which is impressive.  Knowing you have a deadline puts added pressure on the Justin Robertswhole process.  This works good for some but poorly for others.  He also made a simple statement when asked why he writes kids songs that I find resoundingly true. That he “just writes songs.” Rather good songs if you ask me.  These days Justin has a new picture book coming out called The Smallest Girl in The Smallest Grade (Putnam Books), is writing a musical, got elected to the Chicago Chapter Board of The Recording Academy and will be touring with the band.  Do yourself a favor.  Whether you have kids or not go and give Recess a listen and you tell me if it’s not a power pop masterpiece (It is).  Good music knows no age is our motto and Justin Roberts and his band mates put out some of the best music around for kids, families, aliens, dockworkers and whoever else is listening. Listen to the track (pun intended) below and  go support your local kindie artist today.

Looking for Trains

NEW CD’s you should check out!

Fire Engineering School is over and I am back to a normal like schedule.  That time allows me to once again write, make and listen to music.  Been quieter than usual around here but I got a couple of CD’s worth sharing. These are two CD’s I really liked this time around…


Monsters - Book smallerYAY! Seanster and the Monsters.  Sean and I are friends so I have been privyYAYCover to early tracks and I was very excited to finally hear the finished product.  It does not disappoint.  Yay Dolphins jump starts the music party (who knew they protected us from Monsters!) and They Can’t (my other favorite) is smart and funny with a funky groove.  This is a CD full of fun for the whole family. One of the best CD’s I’ve heard this year.   On  May 1st  go support a Canadian kindie artist when it becomes available.


Bari_ElbowBand_300dpiThe Apple Tree and The Honey Bee Bari Koral Family Band.  This time BariBariKoral_ATHB_W139_FIN_o who is pretty well known in the kindie world headed down to Nashville to record this CD with Brad Jones (Alex the Great Recording).  The first half has a joyous pop feel with Apple Tree and Birthday.  But don’t count out the country sound as the latter half has a definite Nashville feel with songs like Fall Down and Back to the Farm.  It’s a high quality fun CD worth a purchase when it becomes available on May 13th.

So go support independant kids music and be sure to check back as we delve into some more Song and the Process and other fun stuff next week!

What I was gonna write about the School Break Primates… a.k.a. Recess Monkey.

monkeyhandsI recently had a great talk with Drew Holloway of Recess Monkey  about their kindie career and how they got to where they are today sonically. How once upon a time they were just three school teachers recording in a school.  That he and Daron Henry would play guitar and drums and Jack Forman  would record them.  Then when they (Daron and Drew) got done recording the guitar and drums Jack would record his bass while the other two plotted out the next song.  No fancy studio for them as they recorded in the classrooms they taught in. It was a very sophisticated way of making a CD. Just three guys playing three instruments making good music.  A long way from the band that’s playing with the Seattle  Symphony on May 17th!    This is as far as I had gotten in this articlesubmonkeys about the growth of the Recess Monkey.  Especially in the world of music production.  I’d love to tell you about the many other cool things about Recess Monkey.   But it seems the notebook I recorded my notes in has disappeared.  In my house!   It may be under my son’s bed or being used as a diary by my daughter. Perhaps the wife’s been jotting down grocery lists.  I’m not sure.  If I had it I’d tell you about their awesome experience recording with Dean Jones (Most mentioned guy on this blog. Due for an interview.) on In Tents.  Perhaps we’d discuss the addition of Korum Bischoff after long time drummer Daron Henry left the band. (They have a drummer coming out party on the song Fish Sticks on last year’s Deep Sea Diver.  It is a truly amazing piece of drumming.)  Then I’d make mention of the fact that Deep Sea Diver and Desert Island Disc were originally one CD that grew into two because of the plethora of songs.  Talk about the heavy Brian Wilson vibe on Desert Island Disc.  That their upcoming disc was recorded with their musical hero John Vanderslice and that after Drew packed up all the Recess Monkey instruments into the minivan, drove them to the Tiny tiny telephone recordingTelephone Recording in San Francisco he ended up using just a mandolin. That John recorded the upcoming CD all on two inch tape.  TWO INCH TAPE!!!  On a Neve no less.   Why you ask is that so impressive?  Tape is a finite analog recording experience unlike digital.  Once you get the right take you erase the rest to use the tape again. So when you’re in the recording room you better be damn ready to record the song (Watch the documentary Sound City to get the scope of why recording on 2 inch tape and a Neve is so impressive.) Those are the things I would probably talk about.  Did I mention that Drew is still teaching,  Korum has around 3 jobs including Drum Teacher and Director of Events and oh yeah… Jack Forman.   The bass player, song writer, original engineer and now the late afternoon host on Kids Place Live (We’re big fans of Jack and the Monkey House listening most days in our car). These are things I would discuss if I could find my note book. Wherever it is.  What I did come away with from my conversation with Drew is the idea that a band becomes greater than its pieces.  That new recording experiences whether with Dean Jones, Johnny Bregar, Tor Hyams or John Vanderslice help fuel the way to more music and keep it interesting for the band.  In the beginning they recorded everything they wrote and then learned to write more and record just the cream of their writing.  They’re still having fun and still writing, playing and grooving out with audiences coast to coast.  Maybe I’ll find that notebook.  Would of been a heck of an article.  Now go support a kindie artist today! I leave you with my kids favorite Monkey video.  Self produced of course…

Congrats to Jack Forman and family on the arrival of the new Baby!  May she and mom be healthy and you all get lots of rest!

End of a St. Patrick tradition.

st patrickEvery year for the last 20 I have made a pilgrimage to the St. Patricks Day capital of the world. Not in Chicago, New York or even Savannah where my sister attends the parade there yearly.  My St. Patricks Day HQ for the last 20 years has been… Kenosoha, Wisconsin.  Sixteen of those years I help purvey the beef and was in charge of the slicing. This happened after I had attended the event a few years and inquired where Patrick McGuire (host of the event) had acquired the beef?  He informed me that he raided every supermarket in a 15 mile radius for the best pieces he could gather. That’s a lot of gathering when your feeding 150+ people. I then volunteered to help  purvey the meat  knowing where to get large pieces of corned beef at much better price (Firehouse tradition is corned beef every Saturday. If you’re the cook you learn where to purchase the BIG briskets).  Patrick and his wife  Anna, my friends, treated this day like others treatshamrock Christmas, Hanukkah and  Easter.  The folks invited were an amazing collection of family, teachers, politicians, lawyers, laborers, students and whoever they or their children felt were worthy to attend. Everyone there was polite, friendly and open to conversation.  When I started attending all the kids were living at home. McGuire kids always took off school for the day.  As the kids grew up and attended college they would fly back home for the festivities.  Many times bringing with them a group of their classmates.   When folks attending got older, married and had kids their children too became part of the festivities (my kids looked forward to it every year).  Here is the most amazing part. When dinner was served EVERYONE SAT DOWN TOGETHER at the many, many tables set up for the occasion. Salad, parsleyed potatoes, cabbage, carrots, Patrick’s world famous Irish Soda Bread (with or without raisins) and of course the 100+ pounds of sliced corned beef. (In the early days I sliced a lot of corned beef but as I got older the McGuire kids got older and assisted. Friends and neighbors would assist as well. In the later years I more or less supervised with a glass of Irish whiskey in hand.  The corned beef slicing had become a party unto itself.)  You grabbed a seat wherever there was space. Never sitting next to a stranger just someone you had not had the opportunity to meet yet.  After dinner many folks would jump right in and help store the leftover food, pack up to-go bags and wash the dishes.  It was another mini-party unto itself as well.  If it was a school night or you had wee ones many headed home right after desert (amazing deserts brought by the guests.)  Some folks (such as this writer) stayed late as there was never a hurry to leave ( As I had kids of my own we had to head home at a respectable hour) and still lots of great company and conversation to be had.   Well I am sorry to say the party has ended.  After 25 years of celebrating the Mcguire’s have called it quits.   While sad to see the party end I am truly humbled and honored they invited me to the party to begin with.  My hope is that one of his children pick up the tradition so I can go visit them, slice some corned beef and hang with some amazing people. Till then I salute the McGuire’s with a glass of Irish whiskey.  Thank you for such generosity for such a long time span.  Well done sir!


p.s. I can still acquire some tasty corned beef at a decent price!

Thanks! It was fun!

Saturday was a good time had by all in attendance.  The First Annual Chicago Kindie Show profiled a lot of great music and fun.  So thanks to Super Stolie, Little Miss Ann and Miss Jamie from The Farm for getting the ball rolling.  Thanks to Mike Flemming for playing guitar for just about everybody.  A special thanks to Tim Knuth for letting us rehearse at his place and of couse all the acts that performed on Saturday.   I shall show the CD cover once more and you can click on it if you want to by the Album.  Available only as a digital download.  Thanks to those that came out hopefully we can do it again next year!band together

Next week and tomorrow is the Big Day

Next week here at A Man, A Band and A Plan I will have a couple of bonified super duper interviews.  First I have a talk with Drew Holloway of Recess Monkey discussing the musical growth of the Recess Monkey who play some pretty darn cool music.  Then it’s a  return to the Song and the Process and an interview with Dan Zanes and one of my all time favorite songs Wonder Wheel!  Stop on by next week it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

tim stolie

Human Tim and Super Stolie!

Tomorrow the Poochamungas take the stage at Lincoln Hall.  many of Chicago’s finest kindie rockers will be there playing a couple of songs and acting all kinds of silly.  The rehearsal on Thursday went well and was really a lot of fun.  Getting to hang out and play music is the whole idea anyway.  There was food, beverages and a whole lot of good music. The show looks to be a great time so go and get your tickets today! Remember it’s SATURDAY, MARCH 8 AT 3PM.


Special Guest Guitarist this Saturday

When the Poochamungas take the stage this Saturday, March 8th, 3pm at Lincoln Hall they will be doing so with special guest guitarist Mike Flemming!  Poochamungas regular guitarist Pedro is unavailable so Mike is stepping in which means if your at the show you may see him play with two bands.  Mike is the regular guitarist for Istvan and His Imaginary Band.  Let me tell you his guitar playing is anything but imaginary.  It’s gonna be a great time. Come on out and dance the afternoon away and raise money for a good cause!!!band together bands